A STORY ABOUT A REAL MAN 69 She turned and went out, affecting everybody in the dugout with her sorrow. Somebody else brought some frozen bream, another brought flat cakes baked on hearth-stones, filling the dugout with the sourish, warm smell of fresh-baked bread. Seryonka and Fedka came. Removing his forage-cap with peasant-like gravity Seryonka said: "Good morn- ing", and placed on the table two lumps of sugar with crumbs of tobacco and bran on them. "Mother sent it. Sugar is good for you, eat it," he said, and turning to Mikhail he added in a business-like tone: "We've been to the old place again. We found an iron pot, two spades, almost undamaged, and an axe head. They may come in handy." Meanwhile, Fedka, standing behind his brother, looked with greedy eyes at the sugar on the table and sucked noisily, as his mouth watered. Later, when he had pondered over all this, Alexei fully appreciated the value of these gifts that were brought to him in the village, about a third of the inhabitants of which had died of starvation that winter, where there was not a family that did not mourn the loss of one or even two of its members. "Oh, women, women, you are priceless! D'you hear what I say, Alexei? I say the Russian woman is priceless. You only have to touch her heart and she will give her last away, will sacrifice her head if need be. That's what our women are like. Am I not right?" Grandad Mikhail would say as he accepted these gifts for Alexei, and then he would turn again to the job he always had in handó mending a harness, a horse collar, or a pair of worn-out felt boots. "And in work too, our women are not behind us men. To tell the truth, they can give us a point or two! It's their tongues that I don't like! They'll be the death of me, those women will be the death of me, I tell you! When my Anisya died, I thought to myself: "Thank the Lord, I'll have a bit of quiet now!' But there, you see, God punished me for it. All our men who were not taken into the army, all joined the partisans to fight the Ger- mans, and I, for my sin, became a commander over women, like a billygoat in a sheep run.... It's hard, I tell you!"